I am capable of growing some herbs, and I do have a few pots with basil plants. This pesto is made with a mix of basil leaves and tomato leaves. The rest of the ingredients are the usual suspects in traditional pesto. Pine nuts were toasted, Parmigiano Reggiano was grated, garlic was peeled and chopped, and extra virgin olive oil was ready to be added. Everything was pulsed in a food processor. I liked the suggestion in the book of using this pesto in a take on Caprese salad. I sliced some fresh mozzarella from Full Quiver, topped the cheese with fresh tomatoes, and spooned the pesto over them. I had a few extra tomato leaves to use to decorate the platter.
As usual, Kurt was suspicious of this new spin on a classic recipe. He wasn’t sure the tomato leaves would be a welcome ingredient in pesto. All concerns were forgotten when he tasted it though. The flavor is like a traditional basil pesto with an added, herby dimension. It was fresh and delicious as part of a Caprese. If I ever attempt to grow tomatoes again, now I know I can at least eat the leaves if no fruit appears on the vines. And, I have lots of new ideas for other plants too.
Speaking of tomato season, I've been helping plan a Tomato Dinner to be held at Springdale Farm this Tuesday, June 9. The dinner will benefit Springdale Center for Urban Agriculture and Slow Food Austin. Tickets are still available. The participating chefs are planning some incredible dishes for this feast on the farm.
Tomato Leaf Pesto
Recipe reprinted with publisher’s permission from The CSA Cookbook.
When I think of summer bounties, I think of basil and tomatoes—the poster children for the season. Something about the sweet, savory, and ever-so-slightly peppery aroma of basil makes a fruity, subtly smoky, vine-ripened tomato sing. When you combine both of their characteristics into an otherwise traditional pesto, the result is a sauce that is unmistakably basil-scented, but with a note of warm and earthy tomato leaf.
Slather it on a thick slice of mozzarella for a different take on the classic Caprese salad.
Makes 1 Cup
2 cups packed fresh basil
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/3 cup packed tomato leaves
1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
3 garlic cloves
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 to 1/2 cup olive oil
Add the basil, Parmesan, tomato leaves, pine nuts, garlic, and salt to a food processor and pulse until crumbly, scraping down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed. Continue pulsing and add the oil in a steady stream until well blended. Use 1/4 cup oil for a thicker paste or up to 1/2 cup oil for a thinner sauce.
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